Unlike many recent graduates who take up tutoring, I don’t do it as a stopgap to pay off a student loan. For me, it is a passion. I love what I do – and bring a wealth of experience and creative strategies to the learning environment. My approach is based on an integrated approach to the liberal arts, particularly the Trivium of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.
I firmly believe in a sound foundation of logic, grammar and rhetoric as the basis for a disciplined approach to developing understanding, wisdom and enlightenment. And I encourage learning through the nurturing of natural inquisitiveness, confidence building, developing an eagerness for discovery. I take a holistic approach to dealing with students who appear unmotivated to learn, or have been put off learning by uninspiring teachers.
I am a parent as well as an educationalist and understand the frustrations parents sometimes have with an increasingly regimented schooling system, as well as the challenges that teachers face within that system. I aim to provide practical solutions that empower children to cope with learning both within and without the school environment.
My approach is rooted in sound educational practice, has grown through a wealth of experience and is nurtured with a good dose of common sense. It is organic and constantly evolving.
My key specialist subjects are English which I cover to degree level and Reasoning, based on Classical Logic. I also cover Maths up to GCSE level, and have also tutored students at KS2 and KS3 levels in Essay-based subjects such as History, Geography, and Social Studies and provided revision support for students across subjects for Common Entrance.
In 2017 I abandoned idea of doing a PhD on story structure when I was offered the opportunity to study with Shonaleigh Cumbers, a Jewish storyteller from a long-standing oral tradition, who is – as far as we know – the last Drut’syla.
In 2005, I attained an MA degree in the History of Design & Material Culture of the Renaissance from the V&A/RCA, London. My thesis was on the History of English 16th and 17th C Woven and Embroidered Textile Bookbindings.
1997 I graduated from The Industrial Society’s Runge Balliol Effective Leadership Course and became an associate trainer with The Industrial Society (now The Work Foundation).
Between 1971 and 1981 my schooling began at Willington School (Wimbledon), then I attended Bi-lingual Public Schools in Alexandria, Egypt: with primary schooling at EGC, and secondary schooling at Victoria College (known as the ‘Eton of the Middle East’.
Teaching qualifications include:
1995-1996 – C&G 7306 – Further & Adult Education Teachers’ Certificate – The City Literary Institute, London
1990 – Vocal Pedagogy for the 21st Century Course – Princeton University, USA
1989-1998 – Vocational voice training and presentation courses taken through the British Voice Association, London
1986-1989 – GTCL (Hons) Music – Trinity College, London
1986-1987 – LTCL, LRAM Music Teaching Diplomas – Trinity College, London; Royal Academy of Music
I have a MENSA-level IQ rating and was a member of MENSA for a year, running a special interest group in winemaking for a while but left as – apart from the SIG – I found the experience boring.
I was diagonsed as mildly dyspraxic while studying for my MA in 2003.
I am the parent of a praxic, dyscalculic child.
I received training in SEN strategies while working at the International Language Institute Kindergarten and via teacher training courses at TCM, London.
I have received training in Speech and Language Therapy diagnosis and intervention as part of my training as a voice teacher through the BVA. This includes a course in VPA profiling with Christina Shewell, and training in the Accent Method of holistic breath management, used in therapy with stammerers but with applications to other situations as well.
I delivered mixed ability training for inclusional groups such as Education Otherwise in the mid-90s.
CPD Courses attended/booked through Harrison Allen Tutoring Agency/Tutorcruncher:
Dyscalculia Assessment – April 2015
Strategies for Teaching ADHD Students – November 2015
Assisting Children with Sensory Processing Issues – June 2016
I have studied logic privately with polymath George Spencer-Brown, best known for his book, ‘Laws of Form’.
I have prepared students for 7+, 8+, 11+, 11+ and 13+ pretests and exams who were offered places at St. Paul’s, Westminster School [The Great School] (Queen’s Scholarship) and Winchester College (Scholarship), KCS, Epsom, Dulwich, University College School (UCS) and Eton. I have also prepared students who were successful in gaining places at Emanuel, Alleyn’s, Wimbledon High, Dulwich College, Tiffin, Kingston and Sutton Grammars, Dame Alice Owen, City of London, King’s College School, Latymer, The Abbey School, Wellington College, Kendrick Grammar School, St John’s Leatherhead, Epsom College, Whitgift, Hampton School, Wycombe Abbey, Henrietta Barnett, Lady Eleanor Holles, Lady Margaret School, The Hall School (Wimbledon) and Godolphin and Latymer, among others.
While my track record speaks for itself, I don’t guarantee success, but I do guarantee sound improvement in reasoning, composition, comprehension, and communication skills that will stand students in good stead through their secondary school educational journeys and which they will find will serve them well in challenging situations such as Oxbridge Interviews beyond that, should their academic paths take them in that direction.
For each of the students I’ve tutored, I’ve always planned my lessons to focus on the particular areas the student needs most help with, and have also made sure there’s time to build up the student’s confidence in areas they’re more comfortable in, as a kind of built-in reward for persevering with difficult areas. I always make sure we cover as much as we can without putting too much pressure of time on the student.
With all schools’ admission tests I prepare students for, I make sure I have a thorough understanding of their particular entry requirements, and I’ll make some use of their specific past papers and mark schemes where available to give the student a guide what to expect. It makes such a difference to a student’s confidence to help them understand what is expected of them, and can put parents at ease as well. Regardless of what happens not the day of the exam, preparation should be an enjoyable process that enriches a student’s ability and love of a particular subject.
A selection of case studies in order of age follows.
7+ – Wimbledon High School
English, Verbal Reasoning, Maths, Exam and Interview Techniques
I was asked to tutor a young girl in the run-up to her 7+ interview for Wimbledon High School. The school selection process is in two phases, with formal written papers and less formal classroom-style assessments. The student was strong in English and VR, but had an individual way of looking at maths, which had knocked her confidence a bit. Despite some interesting answers during class debates (‘What’s half of 8?’ ‘Zero’), the focus on plugging gaps in basic numeracy, including intensive work on conversions and time-telling at 7+ level helped support her in showing her true colours under assessment conditions through confidence-building techniques, and a pragmatic attitude and willingness to ‘make mistakes’ but avoid making ‘silly mistakes’. She went on to have a fulfilling educational journey at Wimbledon High.
8+ St Paul’s Juniors (Colet Court)
English, Reasoning, Exam and Interview Techniques
In late 2016, I started to work with a boy who had just missed entry to St Paul’s at 7+. He was highly intelligent and was not being stretched at his current state school. Preparation for the 8+ exams in January 2017 involved disciplined yet creative approaches to written work and interview skills that drew on storytelling techniques and discussions around graded reading tasks. Focus on exam techniques in comprehension helped him up his ability to tackle this aspect of the entrance exam. He was successful at gaining entry to St Paul’s Juniors, subject to interview.
English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning
I was asked to tutor a boy whose parents knew was bright, but was lacking in confidence, and not achieving his full potential at school. We had a full year to prepare for 11+ interviews and exams. At his first session, given a simple task of comparing and contrasting in as much detail as possible two similar but different objects, it took him 20 minutes to collect his thoughts and put something down on paper. Whereas what he was used to was being prompted by well-meaning teachers or parents, rather than prompt him, or disturb him, I waited, trusting he would come up with the goods. He did. Over the year he gained more and more confidence, responding well to extra ‘Leon points’ given when he showed a spark of original thinking in addition to standard ‘Leon points’ given for achieving positive results in homework tasks. We covered various logical reasoning tasks, verbal and non-verbal problems, some help with maths at the harder end of the 11+ syllabus, but mainly covered self-expression and comprehension tasks in English. At the end of the course of study, this student was engaging spontaneously in deep philosophical conversations covering topics such as movement, the question of whether the number series stretched out infinitely or indefinitely, and moral and ethical questions about good and evil. All aspects of his written work had improved, and his self-confidence had come on in leaps and bounds. He has done very well in mock exams. He achieved Top Tier marks in NVR and VR exams for Wandsworth Tests, sat exams at Emanuel, Ibstock Place, Alleyn’s, and Dulwich, all of which called him back for an interview following which he received and accepted an offer from Emanuel.
How I help students make sense of strange questions at speed
English, Maths, VR and NVR ISEB Computerised PreTest 11+ – (City of London School, Harrow School, St Paul’s School, Westminster School and Wellington College) and Eton computerised test
The computerised pre-tests for top schools can be challenging to those who have not had the opportunity to work at speed in this medium facing particularly demanding material. For the ISEB tests, students need to work at speed, be able to shift quickly from subject to subject, keep calm and think quickly, selecting from a range of problem-solving strategies. The Eton tests are more strictly timed and adaptive, so adjust to ability. Speed of comprehension as well as verbal, non-verbal and numerical reasoning are both tested. The in-depth tuition on verbal and numerical reasoning and exam technique I offer which is based on one very simple mental strategy has helped students not just face these tests with confidence, but gain valuable skills they have gone on to use and benefit from in their written examinations and through their ongoing learning journeys to university and beyond.
13+ Preparation – The Hall School, Wimbledon
Motivating and challenging a student to achieve a result they could be proud of
Over the Easter break in 2017, I was asked to tutor a student with poor performance in maths at school, an unfocused approach to studying and revising, and an entrance exam for a place in year 9 at the Hall School, Wimbledon coming up in 2 weeks’ time. An intensive series of 6 lessons over the 2 weeks, focusing on study skills, revision strategies, exam technique in English Comprehension, Composition, and Maths and – last and most importantly – coming to terms with the joy of learning and the challenge of doing one’s best resulted in an unconditional offer of a place.
13+ CE – Winchester Scholarship
At the beginning of September 2015, I was engaged by an ESL family to tutor their young son who was being put forward for the entry to Winchester in September 2016. The boy’s parents were high achievers and I was told they’d had some poor experiences with tutors in the past. A plan was put in place with their involvement, which covered strategies for approaching the Common Entrance exams, essay writing, interview, and assessing and plugging any gaps in language, with work done supporting and complementing the tasks he was being set at school. The student responded well. Progress was made, but then dipped which prompted an informal review half-way which showed that stress was a factor. We discussed halting tuition for a while, but a joint decision was reached to continue in a supportive, fun way – a timely decision taken wisely, as this loosened the pressure, and released in the student a load of latent energy and will to excel, on his own terms. Keen to achieve results creatively, he produced some of his best work, decided to go for a scholarship, which he was successful in gaining.
13+ Westminster School [The Great School] Scholarship Award
For 6 months prior to his entrance exams, I worked with a gifted and talented student to revise and prepare for French, Latin, Greek, Geography, History, Science, and some English and Maths. The focus was on ensuring deep knowledge and understanding, making connections, verbalising and presenting information based on that knowledge and understanding, and equipping him with some useful memory devices, including mnemonic approaches, imaginative and visual approaches, and approaches used by storytellers to engage with content to communicate it in a meaningful way. The sessions were always fun, with the student taking responsibility for his own revision schedule and session content – an ideal way to work. It was good to hear that he was awarded a Queen’s Scholarship based on his exam results.
Functional Skills support for young student with behavioural problems.
Intervention included interview techniques and academic support in English and Maths. Noted a potential undiagnosed problem with dyslexia which was passed on to his support team with a recommendation for assessment. Support for young lad with speech and language difficulties, and hearing problems. Particular emphasis on speech and language skills in preparation for college assessment and interview. Intervention took student from borderline Entry Level 3 to successful completion of Level 1 and acceptance at college.
I supported a Yr 7 boy with ASD, ADHD, hearing problems, and Dyscalculia who had trouble integrating at school. Dyscalculia tackled through graded work, which showed clear improvements in handling numerical data, performing multi-step sums and reliability in recall and the use of checking strategies. This student was particularly talented in creative writing, and the use of classical approaches and storytelling techniques helped him produce outstanding work in this area. Behavioural improvements were the most pronounced. With the support of the family, he went from an inability to concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time and a need to jump around the room being constantly in motion to being able to sit at a desk and work at a computer for 30-40 minutes at a time and produce a quality piece of work across a range of subjects and tasks. The intervention, which spanned 26 sessions over 5 months, led to a much more rewarding experience for him at school.
I supported a Yr 9 boy with GDD, Autism, Tourettes Syndrome and Speech, Language and Communication difficulties. Work on Feuerstein-based intervention, combined with English and Maths have taken the student from Level 2 to Level 3 in most areas, with clear improvement in behaviour, concentration, and reasoning skills. Ability to perform multi-step tasks, follow a line of reasoning, infer information and maintain cohesion and unity in creative writing have all improved, as has his use of language and vocabulary.
I tutored a 17-year-old gifted and talented student with depression and Aspergers in creative thinking and reasoning, with clear progress and marked improvement in engagement and enjoyment in the learning process at a comfortably challenging level.
Hobbies and Interests
I have performed as a musician, worked with top opera singers as a vocal coach and accompanist, written and performed poetry, and had it published, and teach public speaking and presentation skills to adults. I enjoy telling stories, reading, baking and decorating biscuits, doing practical research into historic needlecraft techniques, and thinking. I am keen on promoting the value of living traditions and the important role that living tradition bearers have to play in society. I am particularly intrigued by questions we don’t yet have answers for.
I have a deep respect for the work of George Spencer-Brown, author of Laws of Form, and have applied his methodology to both the study and teaching of classical logic and of story structure.
“We wanted to share the good news that [X] passed his exam!
We really appreciate all your guidance which has surely greatly helped him!
You have really been brilliant with him, so a huge thank you!”
Parent of an 8+ student
“Dear Leon, I am blown away by the resources that you are sharing with me. Thank you so much for providing them, I will try to use them as much as I can. The upside for me is that I can load them on iPads which means that we can read them anywhere we are, without having to buy and carry and store (compound predicate! :-)) tens of books! Some are even audio books which might be a different way for everyone to enjoy a book, especially when on the go. Thank you so much!”
Parent of reluctant reader preparing for 11+ exams.
“Thank you very much for recommending Leon, he has been of tremendous help and it has been a pleasure interacting with him. His teaching is not just about exams, and he helped our son so much looking into himself and expressing himself. Thank you again. I wish you a lovely summer.”
ESL Parent with children successful at 13+ scholarship to Winchester and 11+ entry to Wycombe Abbey exams.
“Leon is a wonderful tutor – encouraging deep thought, and the kind of engaged learning that leads to original thinking. Our daughter has been privileged to work with him so far.”
“Leon is wonderfully fresh, enthusiastic, and lateral in the way that he makes each lesson work to keep our daughter enthused, whatever the ups and downs. I am looking forward to working with him over the next year as she reaches the end of primary school.”
Initial and mid-period feedback from parent of 9-year-old preparing for 11+ exams
“We are very grateful to you for your patience, kindness and humour, and for the way you have managed to bring imagination and method to ____ and ___’s tutoring. Thank you for helping them challenge themselves, always with a smile. We are particularly appreciative of the maturity now displayed in their creative work, and for the thoughtfulness of your reports. We know their tutoring has been in excellent hands.”
Parents of siblings preparing for various entrance exams at 11+ and over
“Mr Conrad has far exceeded the expectations my husband and I had for a tutor, by expanding the minds of my children with out-of-the ordinary techniques. He believed in them and allowed them to develop, going for beyond exam techniques. We very highly recommend him.”
Parent of siblings preparing for 11+ and 13+ entrance exams
“Hi Leon! Just wanted to let you know that ____ got a scholarship [to Westminster School] and we are so thrilled for him as he has worked so hard. We cannot thank you enough for all your help and support and look forward to working with you in the future. Best wishes, [Y]”
Parent of gifted and talented student preparing for Westminster School [The Great School] 13+ entry for which he was awarded a scholarship
“Many thanks for the detailed feedback. We are in agreement that ____ has made significant progress, thanks to the tutorials and we are confident he will continue to excel in his exams. Thank you for the additional creative writing and reading materials. I’m sure he will find them helpful and enjoyable.”
Parent of gifted and talented student tutored in the run-up to 11+ entrance exams and interviews for top schools (Radley, Eton, Westminster, Harrow)
“Thank you very much for your great help with my daughters ___ and ___. I really appreciate your feedback and all the information that you have sent us. It is really useful. It has been a pleasure to know you.”
“Thank you very much for all the materials you sent us. I don´t know why I did not see your email until today … this is why I did not write you until today. Thanks for your help.”
Parents of ex-pat siblings interviewing for occasional places at Wimbledon High with entry to Years 9 and 10.
“We finally had a confirmation [about school acceptance] and I just told him. The first thing he said was, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it. What’s Leon’s number? I’m going to call him. He’s going to be so happy!” We’ll get a timetable next week and I’ll work with you to make sure he is prepared emotionally and educationally. It’s a very happy day today.”
Parent of SEN student supported in school transfer following exclusion.